Category Archives: Natural News

Coconut Palm Sugar & Nectar Explained

Coconut Palm Sugar & Nectar Explained

coconut palm nectar glycemic vitamins sugar vegan gluten free insulinI originally heard about Coconut Palm Sugar on the Dr. Oz Show. He was talking about this new sugar that didn’t cause sugar spikes and crashes making it better for diabetics, contains vitamins and could be used exactly the way you would use regular sugar in your coffee and baking with a 1:1 ratio.

Coconut palm sugar and nectar both have a low glycemic index (GI) measurement of 35 (compared to cane sugar’s 50). There are many benefits to mainly eating the low glycemic way.

  • Low GI diets increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin
  • Low GI carbohydrates improve diabetes control
  • Low GI carbohydrates reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Low GI carbohydrates reduce blood cholesterol levels
  • Low GI carbohydrates reduce hunger and keep you fuller for longer
  • Low GI carbohydrates prolong physical endurance
  • Low GI diets help people lose and control weight
  • Low GI diets help minimize carbohydrate cravings
  • Low GI diets help minimize energy crashes

The low GI makes it an ideal natural sweetener for diabetics, those interested in weight loss, or anyone simply looking for a healthier alternative to standard sweeteners.

Not only is coconut palm sugar and nectar delicious but both have a high mineral content, is a rich source of potassium (25% more than bananas), magnesium, zinc and iron. It also contains Vitamin B1, B2 B3 and B6. What’s more is that neither one is chemically produced keeping them in a natural, whole food state.

HOW IT’S DERIVED:

coconut palm nectar low glycemic index b vitamins potassium caramel brown sugar liquid vegan gluten free organic sustainable

 

Coconut Palm Sugar is produced by tapping the sweet nectar from the tropical coconut palm tree flower and drying the nutrient rich juice in a large open kettle drum. The juice condenses into a delicious brown crystals.

 

coconut palm nectar low glycemic index b vitamins potassium caramel brown sugar liquid vegan gluten free organic sustainable

 

Coconut Palm Nectar is produced the same way except it is kept in the liquid form similar to honey or maple syrup.

 

 

They are fantastic in brownies, cookies and cakes and also makes a perfect topping for oatmeal. Coconut Palm Sugar and Nectar are commonly used in Asian dishes to give that signature sweet flavor.

I personally use the Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Sugar and Big Tree Farms Coconut Palm Nectar. I cook and bake with the sugar and use the nectar in my tea, drizzle on breakfast quinoa,  among other things just like I would honey. The flavor reminds me of a combination of brown sugar, butterscotch and caramel.

Sugar doesn’t have to be off limits as long as you make the right choices. Just another example of a small change that can make a big difference.

Hail to the coconut!

coconut palm nectar low glycemic index b vitamins potassium caramel brown sugar liquid vegan gluten free organic sustainable

 

 

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Kefir – My Favorite Probiotic

Kefir – My Favorite Probiotic

I have to tell first off that I absolutely despise yogurt. I can’t stand it. I don’t like the texture or the super sour the taste and smell. I’ve tried it so many times thinking that maybe this time will be different but no. I want to like it so bad because of the probiotic benefits. The only way that I can tolerate it is to put it in my protein shakes.

wallaby kefir organic probiotic fermented milk dairy good bacteria immune systemThe story continues to the last time I was at my local grocery store. I noticed a probiotic drink called kefir. The dairy manager happened to be standing right there and asked if I had ever tried kefir. I explained my disgust for yogurt and turns out that he and I shared the same opinion. Surprisingly he said that he loved kefir. Since I’m always trying expand my foodie knowledge, I gave it a go.

Result? I LOVE KEFIR! 

So what is kefir and why is it different than yogurt? 

First of all, our guts are the heart of our immune systems so it’s very important to keep bacteria in balance to keep our immune systems strong. With a good immune system, you have the best chance to fight off illness without antibiotics or medicines. Good health starts with a good immune system.

Probiotics are essential for keeping your gut healthy. Consuming probiotics has numerous benefits.

probiotic immune system healthy bacteria fermented protein calcium digestion vitamin b

www.probiotics-for-health.com

Kefir is defined below. For the full description, go here:

Kefir is a fermented milk product that originated centuries ago in the Caucasus mountains, and is now enjoyed by many different cultures worldwide, particularly in Europe and Asia. It is slightly sour and carbonated due to the fermentation activity of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that make up the “grains” used to culture the milk (not actual grains, but a grain-like matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars that feed the microbes). The various types of beneficial microbiota contained in kefir make it one of the most potent probiotic foods available.

Besides containing highly beneficial bacteria and yeasts, kefir is a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair, as well as general health maintenance. (2) Kefir contains high levels of thiamin, B12, calcium, folates and Vitamin K2. It is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that HELPS the body assimilate other B vitamins. The complete proteins in kefir are already partially digested, and are therefore more easily utilized by the body. Like many other dairy products, kefir is a great source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorus, which helps the body utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy. (3)

Bacteria differences in yogurt and kefir each perform different tasks.

probiotic immune system healthy bacteria fermented protein calcium digestion vitamin bYOGURT: The beneficial bacteria found in yogurt help keep the digestive tract clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria found in a healthy gut. They pass through the digestive tract and are called “transient bacteria.” Meaning when it’s there, it does it’s job and then it’s gone. It doesn’t hang around.

Yogurt is food for the bacteria in the colon. Yogurt only lasts 24 hours while kefir lasts indefinitely. Yogurt helps to ensure that good bacteria grows and remains stable so it is important.

probiotic immune system healthy bacteria fermented protein calcium digestion vitamin bKEFIR: The bacteria in kefir, on the other hand, can actually colonize the intestinal tract and hangs out for a long time continuing to do it’s job. Kefir also contains a lot larger range of bacteria as well as yeasts. So while yogurt may contain a handful of different strains of bacteria, kefir may contain many more than that.

Kefir has more strains of beneficial bacteria and good yeasts; over 50 in homemade kefir, while yogurt only has 7 to 10. Kefir bacteria act like a SWAT team entering into the colon and attaching themselves to the colon, pushing away other harmful substances. It has been said that antibiotics cannot kill kefir – it is that strong. If you are someone that routinely takes antiobiotics, this is really important.

The other great thing about kefir is the amount of good yeasts. There is not much said about yeasts but they are extremely important. It is the good yeasts that put the fizz in kefir. They dominate and kill and control pathogens in the gut. They clean house and strengthen the gut, making it harder for pathogens to dominate and parasites to exist.

I’ve also read that even lactose-intolerant individuals can tolerate kefir as it soothes the tummy because the “good” bacteria have digested the lactose in the milk. For example, the actual lactose left in kefir is 1% or less. So, kefir is 99% lactose free. It also boasts more protein, B vitamins and more relaxing amino acid tryptophan than yogurt.

probiotic immune system healthy bacteria fermented protein calcium digestion vitamin b

I usually drink my kefir (always organic) straight up but I also use it in my protein shakes and make delicious salad dressings with it. My go-to flavor is vanilla for most things but I use plain for cooking or salad dressings (ranch, goddess, bleu cheese, ceasar, etc). I prefer Wallaby kefir but I hear that Trader Joe’s kefir was ranked #1 by Taster’s Choice.

probiotic immune system healthy bacteria fermented protein calcium digestion vitamin bI’m so happy that I gave kefir a chance because my diet lacks probiotics and they are essential to our immune system.

Be good to your gut.

 

 

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Recycling Numbers – What do they mean?

Recycling Numbers – What do they mean?

Ever wonder what the different numbers on your plastic products mean? They range from somewhat safe to downright unsafe when used for food and drink products.

bpa plastic recycling poison hormone bottle container canned food health

Why should you even care what number is on your plastic container? Because some plastics are worse for your health than others. Some can leach harmful chemicals like BPA which have been linked to infertility, hyperactivity, reproductive problems, and other health issues.

 

Here is the definition of BPA per the Mayo Clinic.

BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles. They may also be used in other consumer goods.

Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA.

Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.

Just like we want to know what is in the food we eat and the products we use, we should know what the containers include because they are touching our food.

Here is a breakdown of what the numbers mean so you can make a better decision on what numbers you choose to use.

bpa plastic recycling poison hormone bottle container canned food health

#1 PETE or PET – Found mostly in soda bottles, water bottles, beer bottles, salad dressing containers, mouthwash bottles, and peanut butter containers. Some consider it safe, but this plastic is known to allow bacteria and flavor to accumulate.

#2 HDPE – Found mostly in milk jugs, household cleaner containers, juice bottles, shampoo bottles, cereal box liners, detergent bottles, motor oil bottles, yogurt tubs, and butter tubs, milk jugs, detergent bottles, juice bottles, butter tubs, and toiletries bottles are made of this.  It is usually opaque. This plastic is considered safe and has low risk of leaching.

#3 V or PVC (Vinyl) – Used to make food wrap, plumbing pipes, and detergent bottles. These plastics used to, and still may, contain phthalates, which are linked to numerous health issues ranging from developmental problems to miscarriages. They also contain DEHA, which can be carcinogenic with long-term exposure. DEHA has also been linked to loss of bone mass and liver problems. Don’t cook with or burn this plastic. This plastic is best to be avoided.

#4 LDPE – Low density polyethylene (LDE) is most found in squeezable bottles, shopping bags, clothing, carpet, frozen food, bread bags, and some food wraps. This plastic rests among the recycling symbols considered to be safe.

#5 PP – Typically found in yogurt containers, ketchup bottles, syrup bottles, and medicine bottles. This plastic is also one of the safer plastics to look for.

#6 PS – Polystyrene (PS) is Styrofoam, which is notorious for being difficult to recycle, and thus, bad for the environment. This kind of plastic also poses a health risk, leaching potentially toxic chemicals, especially when heated. Most recycling programs won’t accept it. This plastic is best to be avoided.

#7 OTHER – All of the plastic resins that don’t fit into the other categories are placed in the number 7 category. It’s a mix bag of plastics that includes polycarbonate, which contains the toxic bisphenol-A (BPA). These plastics should be avoided due to possibly containing hormone disruptors like BPA.

Bottom line – Remember this rhyme

“With your food, use 4, 5, 1 and 2. All the rest aren’t good for you”

After learning about the differences of all the numbers, the hubby and I went frantically looking at every single piece of plastic for the numbers. We checked our remaining plastic containers and every plastic bottle in our fridge and cans in our pantry.

Turns out we had a #7! I was horrified lol. I was like “how did a #7 get in our house??” It was a gallon jug bottle for one of our favorite teas. Boo.

Look for a more in depth article on BPA and the dangers not only to our health but to the environment.

For more information visit Nation of Change.

 

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The Differences Between Raw Honey and Processed Honey

The Differences Between Raw Honey and Processed Honey

I love learning about healthier versions of the foods or products I use. You may have noticed that there are a lot more honey choices at the store than there ever was before. I really wanted to know what all the hub-bub was about raw honey so I bought some at Whole Foods yesterday and started investigating.

I found this awesome graphic on www.naturalrevolution.org.  I love this site. “Natural Revolution seeks to empower people with solutions to embrace a natural life for a healthy mind, body, home and planet.” The differences were really eye opening. Shocking actually.

raw honey versus pollen vitamin golden processed honey bear bees natural pasteurization

by Karen Foster — There are well over 30 commercial producers of honey that have no traces of pollen and lack beneficial vitamins and enzymes among a host of other natural constituents which are removed due to pasteurization and processing. Most golden honey you see at your local grocery is dead and far from the health promoting powerhouse of its raw unpasteurized counterpart. Processed honey is not honey at all and if you desire any kind of health benefits, you must stick to the real stuff.

The article at Natural Revolution has more in-depth information that I encourage you to read. Really good stuff.

The look between Raw Honey and Processed Honey is vastly different too.  Natural Revolution shows the difference in this graphic:

honey processed bear cute sweet natural organic bees pollen pasteurized natural

I have to admit, before investigating the differences, I was clueless. I thought that because I was purchasing organic honey that I was getting more out of my honey. Nope, I was just purchasing organically processed honey which still has little nutritional benefit.

Raw honey reminds me of coconut oil the way that they both start off in a more solid state and when heated just a little, become liquid. Raw honey tastes better to me than processed honey, it just looks different.

I also want to note that I am allergic to bee stings (venom) and was a little apprehensive about non-pasteurized honey thinking that I might have an allergic reaction.  As suggested by some websites, I tasted a tiny bit and waited for a reaction, tasted a little more and so on until I had eaten a tablespoon full. No reaction and dee-licious! (But of course if you are allergic to any honey products, do not consume even raw honey.)

honey processed bear cute sweet natural organic bees pollen

So I’m sad to say that I have evicted the cute little honey bear face from our house. We are all raw, all the way!

 

 

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15 Reasons I Love Coconut Oil

15 Reasons I Love Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil is a staple in our house.  I have been using it long before it became so popular.  I figured everyone knew how awesome it was otherwise I would’ve started spreading the word a long time ago.  My bad.  There are 100’s of uses for this miracle oil. I don’t use it for 100’s of things but these are my top 15 favorite uses.

Coconut oil is anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and an antioxidant so it seems like the uses are endless.

If you haven’t used it before, coconut oil comes in a solid form and melts very easily.  You can scoop some out of the jar with a spoon and warm it in your hands, it will melt immediately.  Since i keep a jar in the bathroom and it’s always warm upstairs my jar is usually in a liquid form all the time.  Like I said, it melts very easily.

There are 2 kinds of coconut oil.  There is REFINED and UNREFINED.

REFINED:  Refined does not have a coconut smell or taste. It is still good to use but does lose some of it’s health properties during the refining process.  Sodium hydroxide is frequently added to prolong shelf life.  The oil is extracted from the dried coconut meat that’s been bleached and deodorized and they use chemical solvents to extract as much oil as possible. They may partially hydrogenate the oil too (a trans fat).

UNREFINED:  Also known as “virgin” or “pure” coconut oil and has a great light coconut taste and scent. I actually don’t notice it at all but maybe that’s because I use it so much.  It’s oil is extracted directly from the fresh coconut meat.  Unrefined coconut oil retains the most nutritional value and is superior to refined oil.

I solely use organic refined coconut oil always, I don’t have a strong preference for one brand over the other as long as it’s organic refined.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Photo credit: artizone)

  1. Deep hair conditioner:  Once a week I will coat my hair in coconut oil.  I just scoop some from the jar I keep in the bathroom which is where I use most of my coconut oil.  Melt it in my hands and apply to my hair.  I get my hair nice and saturated, cover with a shower cap and sleep on it overnight.  The next morning I wash my hair as usual. I usually only need to shampoo once to get all of it out but some people with very thick hair may need to shampoo twice.  After shampoo’ing either once or twice, apply your normal conditioner and style as usual.  My hair turns out so silky smooth and hydrated.  I love the day after the coconut oil treatment.
  2. Toothpaste:  Not too long ago I started educating myself on the poison known as fluoride that is in our drinking water and tooth cleaning products.  I threw away all of our toothpaste before I had the chance to purchase organic fluoride-free toothpaste. I didn’t exactly think that one through so I made some.  Because coconut oil is anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal, it makes a wonderfully effective toothpaste.  The recipe is so easy too.  RECIPE:  mix 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted), 2 tablespoons baking soda, a packet or 2 of stevia (to sweeten up) and peppermint extract (to taste).  If the mixture is too runny, just add more baking soda, if too thick add more coconut oil.  It’s so easy.  Just remember to add the equivalent of baking soda to whatever amount of coconut oil you use.  I put mine in a mason jar.
  3. After Shower Moisturizer:  I use coconut oil as a skin moisturizer all year long.  I keep my coconut oil within reach of the shower so that when I’m all done rinsing I scoop out a small amount and apply all over while I’m still wet.  Then I pat dry so not to wipe away all of the coconut oil.  My skin loves it and drinks it right in.  It doesn’t stay greasy after it soaks in either.
  4. Shaving Cream:  Instead of soap or store bought shaving cream, I just scoop some coconut oil, spread on my leg and shave away.  Talk about super soft legs!  Just be careful because the shower can become slippery afterwards and for the next person.  Having a bathmat really helps.  I warn the hubby that I used it so he knows to step in the shower carefully just in case there is any residue.
  5. Eye Make-up Remover:  I used to use expensive department store eye make-up remover until I discovered coconut oil.  I use a cotton round and coconut oil to remove all of my eye make-up, even the tough waterproof mascara.  Not only does it take off my eye make-up like a boss but it conditions my eye lashes.
  6. Under Eye Moisturizer/Wrinkle Reducer:  After taking my eye make-up off I swipe my finger in the jar and apply a thin layer to each under eye so it soaks in while I sleep.  My skin is nice and soft in the morning.  This works just as good as any wrinkle reducing serum I’ve bought at the store.
  7. Fly Away Tamer:  When I need it, instead of using expensive serums for fly aways, I just take a very small (I mean very small) amount in my hand and apply it as a finishing serum.  Start with the smallest amount you can imagine, you’ll be surprised how far it goes. It gives my hair beautiful shine!
  8. Eczema Relief:  I live in the Midwest and no matter what I do, occasionally I get dry patches due to the extreme cold.  Nothing store bought seemed to help so I thought, “why not try the coconut oil, it works for everything else”.  Ta-da, it helped relieve the redness, flaking and itchiness of the dry patches and more importantly healed them.
  9. Deodorant:  It’s happened to everyone at least once, you don’t realize you are out of deodorant until it’s too late.  In a pinch, you can use coconut oil!  Since it’s an anti-microbial and anti-fungal, it will keep the stinky away.  It’s not an antiperspirant so you will still sweat if you are a sweater but you won’t stink and your underarms will be nice and soft.  You don’t need a lot to use it as deodorant, just a thin swipe will do.
  10. Grease Pans:  Whenever a recipe calls for greasing a pan or using butter to cook something in, I use coconut oil instead.  It works better than butter as it as a very high heat tolerance and won’t burn like butter.
  11. Leather Cleaner:  I especially use this in the winter to clean the salt off of my leather boots.  Just use a washcloth with some coconut oil it and rub that salt right off.  It moisturizes the leather beautifully.
  12. Replace Butter in Recipes:  I use coconut oil in place of butter (exact amount by exact amount) whenever I cook something that calls for butter.
  13. Dry Heel Healer:  If you’ve got dry heels, slather on coconut oil on your feet, put socks on and sleep.  Wake up with softer feet!  I also massage it into my cuticles on my hands.
  14. Sugar Body Scrub:  Get a mason jar and mix a 1/2 cup of coconut oil, a 1/4 cup of sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract.  You can add any essential oil, I just happen to love the smell of vanilla.  Use in the shower and exfoliate.  Again, be careful of the tub being slippery.
  15. Tattoo Care:  I rub in coconut oil into all of my tattoos.  It makes the colors pop and moisturizes the skin to help keep the pigment from fading.  And any time I have a little extra on my hands I always wipe the excess on my elbows, why waste it?

There you have it, these are my top 15 things I use coconut oil for on a regular basis.  I use it every single day in one capacity or another.  Not only does it save us money but it’s so much better for us inside and out.  Better than any store bought beauty product.  So go pick up a jar and you just might be using it every day too.

 

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